Taking Care of Swollen, Bleeding Gums

Gum problems can affect anyone. Whether you brushed too hard or flossed too vigorously, you've probably seen your gums turn red, become swollen or even bleed when you brush or floss. Healthy gums usually recover quickly from mild trauma, but if you have swollen, bleeding gums for several days or longer, they're likely may be other problems that are contributing.

Possible Causes of Bleeding Gums

Normal gums are pink and firm to the touch. If your gums appear bright red, swollen, puffy or sensitive, it's a sign of gum disease. The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis, the most common cause of gum issues in adults. The American Dental Association reports the findings of a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that half of Americans aged 30 or older have some form of gum disease.

However, there are other causes of swollen or bleeding gums which include:

  • A person who has a bleeding disorder
  • Pregnancy and hormonal changes in women
  • Wearing dentures that don't fit properly
  • Brushing too hard
  • Incorrect flossing
  • Systemic infections
  • Use of chemotherapy
  • People on blood thinner medication
  • Smoking and chewing tobacco
  • Vitamin deficiency

Preventive Measures

Proper oral hygiene helps prevent swollen, bleeding gum issues. Brushing for about two minutes at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day is essential. To brush your teeth correctly use short, gentle strokes and pay extra attention to the gum line, your back teeth and any fillings, crowns or restorations you have. Consider using a soft-bristled toothbrush, such as the Colgate® 360°®, which has a flexible toothbrush head and is specifically designed to prevent excess pressure on your gums.

Start a flossing routine once an evening before you go to bed. Proper flossing between the teeth, curving the floss around the tooth in a "C" shape and gently moving it up and down as well as under the gum line is important. Make sure you use a new section of floss for each tooth so you are not moving plaque around from tooth to tooth. Because flossing helps to remove plaque bacteria and food debris, it's an important preventative step in avoiding gum disease.

Swollen and Bleeding Gums in Children

The American Academy of Periodontology notes that gum disease is common in children, but preventable and treatable. The association recommends teaching children proper brushing habits early and scheduling regular dental checkups to treat any gum or tooth-related problems.

If your child is getting a new tooth, you will see swelling and redness in that area. Apply ice to the area to soothe the inflammation. Sometimes, hard candy or crunchy items can scrape a child's gums, which can cause bleeding and swelling. It's also common for children to injure their mouths after a fall or while playing. If the injury looks severe and any bleeding lasts more than 10 minutes, visit a doctor.

Treatment

For milder cases of swollen gums, consider cleaning the gums properly and swishing salt water around in your mouth which can help reduce swelling. For bleeding gums, a gauze pad dipped in ice water or a damp tea bag pressed on the site will provide relief. The Mayo Clinic recommends over-the-counter pain relievers, including Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen, to reduce pain.

The best treatment for gingivitis is a professional dental cleaning to remove tartar and plaque. Brushing with an antimicrobial toothpaste, like Colgate® Total,® fights bacterial germs for 12 hours and helps to reduce plaque, gingivitis, tartar buildup, cavities and bad breath between visits to your dentist.

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Common Conditions During ADULTHOOD

As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of:

Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.